To conquer the world… with cocaine!

From the pages of the August

Everybody knows that once upon a time Coca-Cola really did contain cocaine, although almost nobody now alive can recall the taste and effects of “the real thing.” But during its Heroic Age, which lasted from 1886 to 1903, Coke was hailed as the salvation of the world and a wonder drug for man, woman and beast; it was first sold as a brain tonic and sure cure for alcoholism, headache, neuralgia, hysteria, melancholy and a host of afflictions both nervous and mucous. With the dawn of the [20th] century, Coca-Cola became a target of prohibitionists, nutritionists and Southern Methodists convinced that the blend of cocaine and caffeine was distilled in hell and drunk at the cost of your soul, if not your stomach. The outcry against Coke rings down through the decades—along with the court-stopping stunts of corporate lawyers who downed straight snorts of caffeine as well as bottled dead rats, roaches and black widow spiders to demonstrate the purity of their stockholders’ concoction. Today Coca-Cola is sipped, slurped and swallowed over 200 million times a day.

1977 issue of High Times comes John Graff’s story about the origins of the all-American soft drink.

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